East Gorbals Free Church Mission School (1860)



DURING the past few months I have been engaged in the good work which is going on in this district. I have carefully watched the effects of the wondrous workings of the Divine Spirit in the hearts and conduct of old and young, and can testify to the mighty power and influence of that unseen Agency. The young have been constrained to remember their Creator in the days of their youth; the middle-aged are heard to exclaim, "What must we do to be saved?" while the aged are looking to that Saviour who came to seek and to save the lost. Hundreds who, a short time ago, were living ignorant and careless of Divine things, now repair regularly to the prayer-meeting to learn of and meet with Jesus. Instead of preparing for scenes of thoughtless folly, as is too frequently the case at the end of one year and the beginning of another, the season has been one of deep solemnity and anxious inquiry. The family altar has been set up in many households where hitherto the duty and privilege of family worship were entirely neglected; while the precious truths of the Bible are read and pondered with an earnestness which it is truly delightful to witness. Indeed, such is the great love for the exercise of prayer, that I have heard many say, after finding peace, that they had no desire to go back into the world, but to be continually at the feet of Jesus, and to hold sweet communion with Him.

There can be no doubt that the great awakening of the present day is the genuine work of the Spirit of God. And I believe that many who at first asserted it was a device of Satan, would now wish to retract their statements and bear witness to the fact that the hand of God is visible in the movement. A few incidents of the work among us may be interesting to the reader, and especially to such as are engaged in the labours of the Sabbath school, and who have not as yet seen much, if any, good results produced amongst the young who are the objects of their care and instructions.

The Sabbath school over which I preside is situated in a spiritually-destitute locality. The young have been almost entirely neglected, both in a temporal and spiritual point of view. About eighteen months ago, the school was opened by the East Gorbals Free Church Sabbath-school Association, and shortly afterwards I was appointed superintendent. For some time very few scholars came forward, and those who did so were more like the children of barbarous parents than anything else. They were very ignorant, unruly, and ungodly. They seemingly had never heard of the Gospel of peace until they came to that school, and it was not for any good purpose that many of them attended. The floor of the room was laid with bricks, many of winch were frequently torn up, and on several occasions I providentially escaped being struck with large stones which were thrown at me. Our scholars were given to swearing, lying, quarrelling, and fighting with each other; and we prayed and laboured amongst them for a considerable period without seeing any visible improvement in the conduct of any.

After some time we removed to a larger and more commodious school-room in the same district-Commercial Road Academy. We had not been long there when we observed the number of scholars increasing. Yet we saw but little fruit; but praying, believing, hoping, we laboured on assured of the truth of the promises that "with God all things are possible," and "whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." And, thanks be to God, we were not disappointed. And let me here urge upon teachers of the young, for their encouragement, to work on in the certain expectation of God blessing their labour of love—to pray, and believe that an answer must come from Him who is the hearer of prayer.

Having heard of the wondrous work of revival in America, Ireland, and elsewhere, we asked ourselves the question, whether it was possible that we, too, though unworthy, might receive the blessing as well as they. We reflected anew on the Divine promises, and were oftener at the throne of grace, pleading with God that, for Christ's sake, He would pour out upon us the Spirit from on high. Our excellent missionary, Mr Gilchrist, visited Ardrossan, and, after having satisfied himself that the religious awaken¬ing in that town was a real manifestation of the Holy Spirit, he returned home, and gave a detailed account of such of the incidents of the movement as had come under his own observation. One great means, under God, of promoting the progress of revival, is the diffusion of intelligence regarding it, and it is well when those who have it in their power to visit the scenes of awakening are able to satisfy themselves of its true character, and by their relation of what they have " seen and heard," prepare the minds and hearts of others for the coming of the Lord. The facts stated by Mr Gilchrist were most impressive, and from that time my expectations were strengthened that the Lord was at hand to add to His fold from amongst us such as shall be saved.

On Sabbath, September 11, some of the teachers and others met for prayer half-an-hour previous to the assem¬bling of the school. We prayed to God, for Christ's sake, that some souls might be brought to Himself that night. We expected an answer to our prayers, and we were not disappointed. On that memorable evening, the Lord was pleased to give us some fruit of our labours. During the closing address at the class, not a few were seen in tears, and some were crying out aloud. I intimated at the close that those who were anxious about their souls might remain. Many did so, thirteen of whom were in bitter agony of soul, crying in despair. One, who was a swearer and Sabbath-breaker, said he felt himself on the very brink of hell. Some of those who were awakened that night had hitherto been our most troublesome scholars; now they were exclaiming, "Oh, my sins!" "Oh, what will I do?" It seemed as if the Holy Spirit had shed a flood of light upon their hearts, and revealed a whole life of sin in the space of a few minutes. Casting themselves wholly upon Christ, many found peace in believing, and went away with hearts overflowing with joy. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory." On Sabbath, September 18, we again met together for special prayer for an increased outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When the school assembled, there was an attendance of nearly one-half more than on the previous Sabbath, those who had been then awakened having brought their comrades and friends with them, to induce them also to accept that Saviour who was now so precious to their own souls. This is a good feature of the work. I have observed that the young especially are not content with having found Christ for themselves, but are anxious to bring their friends out of the world around them to partake of the peace that passeth understanding; and this is one proof that the present work of revival is not one of mere evanescent excitement, but of deep, heartfelt earnestness. One young woman, after having found Christ for herself, felt the greatest desire to go to her parents, who were living in the country, to tell them of the matchless love of Jesus. She did go, and had a most solemn meeting with them and some neighbours for prayer, at which many were awakened. In. the school, I overheard a boy, who had brought one of his wicked companions with him, saying, " Come to Jesus: He will save you. Oh! He is a great Saviour, if you would only come!" He afterwards looked up to me with a sorrowful countenance. I saw he was disappointed. "What did you say to him?" I inquired. "I asked him to come to Jesus," he replied, "but he refused." “Well, then, what can you do for him now?" "I will pray to Jesus for him." He knew the power of prayer, and, leaning himself upon the desk, he poured out his heart's desire to the Saviour. The wicked boy seemed to be solemnised by the conduct of the young missionary. The above are only two cases out of many which might be stated to shew the results of the work.

That same evening, while the closing address was being delivered, many present were deeply impressed, and two or three uttered despairing cries. As there seemed to be a number of anxious inquirers, such were invited to repair to the anxious inquirers' room; and by the time I got over to address them, the place was quite filled. Sixteen persons sat weeping, wringing their hands, and crying for mercy. Some of those who had been awakened on the previous Sabbath, and who had now apparently found that peace which comes from a sense of pardoned sin, prayed earnestly, and with as much fluency as if they had been in the habit of praying for years. It was truly delightful to hear people so young interceding at the throne of grace for their unconverted parents, brothers, and sisters at home,— even their enemies were remembered, that God would enable them to forgive them, and receive them also to Himself. I observed that, as soon as they got a clear view of the plan of salvation, immediately after they seemed to get peace: a number said publicly that Jesus had taken away their burden, and now they were at peace. Many went away hopefully converted.

A young woman came into the room just as I began my address. From her general appearance she seemed to be very poor, and apparently one of that too numerous class in all our large towns for whose souls no man cares. It seemed that God had sent her there that night for her own and her parents' good. In about fifteen minutes she was in great mental agony, crying out, "Oh, that load of sin! that load of sin!" She was living with ungodly parents, and, according to her own statement, had never heard of Jesus till that evening. She went home at the close of the meeting, still anxious; and at midnight her parents were awakened out of sleep by hearing her earnestly engaged in prayer. She was wrestling with God in the stillness of night for herself, for them, for the world. Ah! it was night with her soul; but the dawn of day was near, and has now ushered in a marvellous light to her. From all I can learn, she now enjoys peace in Jesus.

It would occupy too much space to give a detailed account of the proceedings of every evening since the awakening commenced, but the above statement of facts may serve to give an idea of the character of the work. I may state that, since the movement began in our school, there have been cases of conviction every night. On some evenings the numbers have been more, on others less; one night there were as many as twenty-four. It was truly heartrending to listen to their cries and wailings; and yet we may rejoice when "by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." Surely it is better to cry out here, in time, under an overwhelming sense of sin, than to weep and wail for sins unforgiven in the place of perdition. It is no wonder if cries of despair are uttered when the Holy Spirit lifts the veil that hides men from God, and from seeing themselves in all the hideousness and danger of their wickedness. We have had comparatively few cases of prostration. Most of the cases of conviction are now different in their outward manifestations from what they were at the beginning of the revival. The awakened are more calm, but still as anxious—deeply earnest, but not so excited.

So far as my own experience goes, I find that the more prayer and wrestling with God, the more work is done. Not that our prayers merit an answer, but because it is the will of God, for Christ's sake, to grant an answer; according to the gracious promise, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." And we may rest assured that whatsoever things are promised, must be granted, if faith is exercised in making the request, for "He is faithful that promised." Oh, then,- let us seek to understand the meaning of these gracious words, and in the use of those means which God has placed in our power, ensure the blessing from on high

Additional Information

I believe the church was somewhere in Eglinton Street. I do not know where the School was.

Related Wells